Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM

Gasparilla Bowl Preview

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Marshall vs. South Florida

Gasparilla Bowl History

-- The Marshall Thundering Herd (8-4 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) take on the South Florida Bulls (7-5 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. The bowl, formerly known as the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl, the Beef O'Brady's Bowl and the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, is played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., which just happens to be the home field of the USF Bulls.

-- The Thundering Herd have appeared in this bowl game in 2011, as well as 2015. The result was the same for Marshall, as they won 20-10 against Florida International as four-point underdogs in '11, and they won and covered as three-point favorites against Connecticut in the '15 installment. The 'under' covered in both of those appearances for Marshall, and has hit in three straight in this bowl game, and six of the past seven.

-- The Bulls of South Florida are making this first appearance in this bowl since the inaugural magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl back in 2008. They were favored by 10 1/2 points in that game and went on to administer a 41-14 beating of Memphis in another game which featured the under.

-- The Herd have had an up and down season. They started with a 35-28 win on the road against Miami (Ohio) as slight 'dogs back on Sept. 1 for their only cover in the first five games. They lost a measuring stick game at home against N.C. State, 37-20, before opening conference play with a road victory at Western Kentucky, 20-17, on Sept. 29. They picked up their first cover in C-USA play on the road at Old Dominion, 42-20, on Oct. 13, and overall they went a respectable 4-2 SU away from home, although they only covered twice. The defense improved as the season went on, allowing 11.5 points per game (PPG) in a four-game conference span from Oct. 20-Nov. 17. They graciously played a season finale game at Virginia Tech, as the Hokies scheduled the conditional game trying to become bowl eligible after having a game cancelled earlier in the season. The Herd took a 41-20 loss in that one on Dec. 1, but they were already locked into a bowl. They finished the season like they started, though, going 1-4 ATS in the final five outings and the 'over' cashed in four of their final five.

-- The Bulls fired out of the chute to open their 2018 campaign, rolling to wins against Power 5 opponents Georgia Tech, 49-38 on Sept. 8 at the RayJay, as well as a 25-19 road win in Illinois on Sept. 15. Overall they started the year 7-0 SU/2-5 ATS, and there was some talk about 'Group of 5' possibilities. However, they ran into a buzzsaw in Houston on Oct. 27, losing 57-36 for their first loss, and they suffered a demoralizing 41-15 loss to Tulane on Nov. 3. USF ended up losing five straight to splash cold water on a great start, ending the season 2-5 ATS in the final seven.

-- Marshall finished 81st in total yards (384.5 YPG) on offense, posting 228.7 YPG to finished 66th in the country. Defensively is where the Herd really excelled, and it's likely the biggest reason they're going bowling. The Herd ranked 23rd in total yards allowed (335.6 YPG) while finishing eighth in the country (103.9 YPG). They also gave up just 22.0 PPG to finish 31st in the country. If they're going to be beaten, they did allow 231.7 yards per game through the air to finish a mediocre 70th in the land.

-- USF ranked 34th in total yards (442.8 YPG) while ranking 36th in the country in the run game (202.5 YPG). It didn't compute to a ton of points, however, as they were 64th in the nation with 29.2 PPG. Defensively they managed to finish just 103rd with 442.0 yards per game allowed, ranking 35th in the country in passing yardage (197.2 YPG). The Bulls were susceptible to the run, giving up 244.8 YPG to rank a dismal 121th in the country.

-- QB Isaiah Green completed 55.4 percent of his passes for 2,060 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. RB Tyler King paced the Herd with a team-high 655 rushing yards and four scores while averaging 6.1 yards per carry, while RB Brenden Knox posted 365 yards and three scores. QB Anthony Anderson worked in the 'Wildcat' and was able to run for 244 yards and a team-high eight scores. In the pass game, WR Tyre Brady is the one to watch, as he finished with a team-best 60 grabs, 819 yards and nine scores. WR Obi Obialo can also be dangerous, posting 463 yards and four scores while averaging 12.5 yards per grab.

-- USF QB Blake Barnett (shoulder) is considered questionable for the game due to injury. He completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,477 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while running for 313 yards and eight scores. On the ground it's all about RB Jordan Cronkrite, who piled up 1,095 yards (6.3 YPC) with nine scores. He, RB Johnny Ford and Barnett combined for at 25 touchdowns on the ground, with at least eight apiece. Oddly enough, USF's leading receiver is also named 'Tyre'. WR Tyre McCants hauled in 58 receptions for 607 yards and three scores.

-- Marshall has won six consecutive bowl games, including each of the past five under head coach Doc Holliday. They're also 11-1 in the past 12 bowl appearances dating back to the Motor City Bowl back in 1998.

-- South Florida will be participating in their 10th all-time bowl game, winning each of the past two (both in the Birmingham Bowl). They're 5-1 SU in their past six bowl appearances, too, including a win over Memphis in the '08 installment of this game. The Bulls have scored 21 or more points in eight consecutive outings.

-- Marshall has covered six consecutive bowl games, and they're 21-8-1 ATS inthe past 30 games outside of the conference. However, they're also 1-4 ATS in the past five overall, 1-4 ATS in the past five against winning teams and 1-4 ATS in their past five road outings, for which this qualifies since it is USF's home field.

-- South Florida has been terrible against the number, too, going 0-4 ATS in their past four at home, and 2-5 ATS in the past seven overall. They have covered nine of the past 13 against winning teams, but they're also a dismal 3-7-1 ATS in the past 11 at home against teams with a winnng road mark.

-- This game has featured many 'under' results over the years, but the over has dominated for Marshall. The over is 4-0 in the past four road contests, 4-1 in the past five overall and 4-1 in their past five against teams with a winning record. The over is also 16-5 in their past 21 non-conference tilts.

-- The over is 4-0 in USF's past four bowl appearances, and 14-5 in their past 19 against winning teams. However, the under is 8-3 in their past 11 at home.

-- Kickoff is slated for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

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